As New Jersey residents prepare to celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer, the Division of Consumer Affairs and the U.S. Product Safety Commission kicked off “Summer Safety Week” to raise awareness of the increased risk of injury that warm weather brings.
“For many people, the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most fun and exciting months of the year. But summer activities come with preventable risks, especially for children,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, we’re urging consumers to learn how to avoid seasonal risks to themselves and their children so that everyone stays safe while enjoying summer activities.”
For Summer Safety Week, the DCA is providing consumers with daily tips on how to avoid common hazards of the summer, like grill fires or sports injuries.
With Memorial Day weekend celebrated as the unofficial kickoff to summer, cookouts and barbecues are about to heat up in New Jersey.
All of those outdoor celebrations also mean an increased risk of grilling fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (“NFPA”), May is among the leading months for home grilling fires. The peak months for grilling fires are July, followed by June, May, and August.
On average each year (between 2013 and 2017), U.S. fire departments responded to 10,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues, including an average of 4,500 structure fires and 5,700 outside or unclassified fires. These fires resulted in 10 civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $123 million in direct property damage, on average each year.
According to the NFPA, the leading causes of home grilling fires include failing to properly clean the grill, leaks or breaks, and having a flammable object too close to the grill. Unattended cooking is a major cause of all types of cooking fires, including grill fires. Leaks and breaks are a particular problem with gas grills.
General Grill Safety Information from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors. Keep them well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Do not use them in garages or on porches. Never use them inside a tent or other structure. Failure to follow this step could lead to carbon monoxide or fire hazards.
- Before using an old grill for the first time this summer, check the CPSC’s website, at www.cpsc.gov to ensure it has not been subject to a safety recall.
- Always follow the safety instructions that accompany any grill you use.
- Keep children at least three feet away from the grill. The outside surface can become very hot and remain hot even after the fire has been put out.
- Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher nearby.
- Keep flammable liquids, such as gasoline or lighter fluid, away from the grill.
Thoroughly inspect your gas grill at least once each year, with the following steps:
- Check the Venturi tube (which connects the burner to the control valves) for blockages and clear them with a pipe cleaner or wire.
- Check the hoses for cracks and leaks. Make sure the hoses are as far away from the hot surface as possible. If you can’t move them, have a heat shield installed.
- Check for liquid propane (LP) gas leaks whenever you connect the grill to the gas container or if you smell gas. To check for leaks, open the LP gas supply valve fully and apply a soapy solution (one part water, one part liquid detergent) with a brush at connection points. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Turn off the LP gas and tighten the connection. If this does not stop the leak, close the container valve and take the grill to your LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.
- If a leak is detected, do not attempt to light the grill until it has been repaired. If you discover a leak while using the grill, turn off the LP gas.
- Always keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.
- When storing or transporting LP gas containers: Always keep them upright. Never store them under or near the grill. Never use or store them indoors. LP containers should only be refilled by a qualified service station operator. Do not fill them yourself.
- Buy grills and LP gas containers that bear the mark of a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.
Additional Fire Safety Information:
- Always remember that charcoal grills and campfires remain hot even after the fire has been put out.
- Keep campfires to a small, manageable size.
- Teach children how to stop, drop and roll if an article of clothing ever catches fire. Young children can learn best if you practice the steps with them, rather than just talking about them.